The only way to stay in complete control of your credit card accounts is to always know how much you owe. It’s not hard. Here are four easy ways to check your credit card balance.
Seeing your balance once a month may not be enough, however. If overspending is a danger, especially if you share an account with someone, it can be a bit late to find out when the statement comes.
If you’re close to your available credit limit, you need to know your current balance before you try to make purchases. And if thieves steal your account information, they could run up your account with unauthorized charges for weeks before you read your credit card statement.
The only way to stay in complete control of your credit card accounts is to always know how much you owe. It’s not hard. Here are four ways to quickly check your card balance today.
See related: Statement balance vs. current balance
4 ways to check your credit card balance
How to check your credit card balance
1. Call your credit card issuer
You can check your balance by phone anytime, and you won’t even need to wait to talk to a customer service representative.
Enter the phone number on the back of your credit card and follow the automated service instructions. You will be asked for your account number and identifying information. You’ll hear your account balance, as well as other information such as your most recent purchase amount.
2. Check your online account
If you haven’t used your credit card company’s website before, look for the address on your credit card or statement.
You’ll need to create an account with a secure password, and you might want to bookmark the log-in page. Once you’re all set, you can check your balance, see purchases and payments, and even pay your bill in one place. For security reasons, don’t let your computer save your username and password for your bank.
3. Use your bank’s mobile app
Download your credit card company’s app on your mobile phone, and you’ll access your account and see recent transactions, payments and balance. You can even make payments or chat with a customer service representative.
Avoid storing your password, and possibly even your username, on your mobile app. Anyone who picks up your phone can access your account if it’s not protected.
4. Send a text to your bank
You may be able to bank by text, or at least quickly check your balance. For example, if you have a Chase credit card, you can text Chase at 24273, and it will text back your account balance and other information.
See related: How to pay your credit card bill
How much of your balance should you pay, and how often?
If you pay the minimum payment by the due date every month without fail, your account will remain in good standing and your credit report will stay clean. However, you may have good reasons to pay more, or to pay more frequently or sooner:
Your balance is near your credit limit
Overlimit fees can hurt. And going over your credit limit can also leave you standing in the checkout line, unable to use your card. If you are close to your limit, pay as much as you can afford to bring it down, without jeopardizing your other financial goals.
You carry a balance from month to month
If you pay interest on your credit card, don’t wait until the last day to make your payment. The sooner you pay, the less interest expense you’ll have. You can even pay your credit card bill twice or more per month.
For example, if you are paid semi-monthly, you could schedule a payment after you receive each check.
You need your credit score to be at its best
Credit card companies report your balance to the credit bureaus at one point during the billing cycle – and chances are it’s not right after you pay your bill. So you could pay your balance off every month, but your credit report could show you had a large balance on the day your account was reported.
This could hurt your credit utilization ratio – the amount you owe in relation to your available credit. When your credit score matters most, such as when you are planning to apply for a mortgage, check your balance frequently and try to keep your balances below 30% of your available credit throughout the month.
See related: Should I pay off my credit card all at once?
You’re trying to pay down debt
Interest expense is the enemy of debt reduction plans. The more you pay in interest, the less money you can afford to apply to your debt balance.
On the other hand, if you can pay more, pay earlier or pay more often to get that balance down even a bit, you’ll start paying less interest expense. More of your payment starts going to your balance.
Consider taking money from savings or other accounts where you’re not earning much interest and giving your debt reduction plan a jumpstart. Be sure to keep enough money in savings for emergencies, and always look at your total financial picture before making such decisions.